As the MLB trade deadline draws closer, do not be surprised to hear the Atlanta Braves are looking to improve their already stellar team. It appears that pitching is going to be high on the priority list but in a surprising turn of events, the talks of the Braves adding another outfielder help is heating up. Why are these trades more likely and who could be on their way to Atlanta?
Through the first half of the season, the Braves have stayed relatively healthy. Once the second half came along, so did the injury bug. Just within the last week, Atlanta has been forced to place Nick Anderson and Kolby Allard on the 60-day IL. AJ Minter is on an IL stint of his own for at least 15 days. As if three pitchers hitting the injured list simultaneously isn't enough, outfielder Eddie Rosario left Saturday's game in the late innings with an apparent hamstring injury.
With two of the Braves' most dependable bullpen arms down, relief pitching will most likely be the number one target for AA and the Braves front office.
It has been mentioned before how well Daniel Bard would fit in with the Braves but may be a little too costly for Anthopolus' liking. One team that seems to fit the formula for "sellers" at the trade deadline is the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals have had a disastrous season to this point given their pre-season expectations. They are sitting at 41-53, last place in the NL Central, and 11 games back of a Wild Card spot. While 2023 currently seems to be a wash for St. Louis, they will have high expectations in 2024 with the talent they have. With guys such as Nolan Arenado, Willson Contreras, and Paul Goldschmidt. Not to mention pitchers such as Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas. On paper, this team is good. They are just simply underperforming this year.
Jordan Hicks is a reliever that the Cards could be looking to trade and the Braves could be interested in. In 39.2 innings pitched, Hicks has posted a 3.86 ERA while striking out 56 but also walking 23 batters. While control seems to be an issue this year and this could be a high-risk/high-reward move for the Braves, the asking price of Hicks may be lower than what most people would imagine with him underperforming and his contract expiring after the 2023 season.
Jordan Hicks could also provide Braves manager Brian Snitker with some options as he has closer role experience but could also buy into the role of an 8th-inning set-up man if needed.
Several individuals are speculating that the Braves will not be shopping for starting pitching with ace Max Fried's return, hopefully, just around the corner. Even with Fried stepping back into the rotation, one more dependable starter could improve this Atlanta team tremendously.
Even with Fried's return, the rotation would include Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton, Bryce Elder, and Max Fried.... then who? Kyle Wright is still sidelined and no one the Braves have plugged into that spot has proven themselves good enough to stay.
There could be several different options to fill this hole. While all teams in baseball would want a superstar like Shohei Ohtani, all the Atlanta Braves need is a dependable arm who can give them a chance to win every fifth game. AA could be looking at giving up the bare minimum to obtain a #5 starter.
The Oakland A's and Atlanta Braves seem to have a good relationship with one another when making trades, so why not one more? JP Sears is also a realistic trade target for the Braves. No, he is not Shohei Ohtani, and they are probably several people who have not heard his name but he could be exactly what the Braves need.
Sears may have a 1-6 record in 2023, but he has an ERA of 3.99 and an even 100 strikeouts in 106 innings pitched. He also has a WHIP of 1.02 which would be lower than any other Braves starting pitcher, even Spencer Strider. Sears' 106 innings pitched has been accumulated over 19 appearances, meaning on average, he goes a little over 5 innings per outing.
With the run support this Atlanta Braves team is more than capable of providing, JP Sears could be a great addition to the starting rotation.
This is where things get a little tricky. The Braves are still unsure of the magnitude of Eddie Rosario's injury. With Sam Hilliard and Kevin Pillar most likely filling in that gap for the time being, this takes away from the Braves bench depth. Hilliard and Pillar are both great players and more than capable of playing every day, but with this team, they seem to fit in better coming off the bench.
Here are five outfielders the Braves could look to trade for that would all be great fits.
There is always room for improvement and the best team in baseball is no exception. Look for the Braves to make a splash before or on August 1st.